Editorial: Return Salomon, Robinson to state Senate

Jesse Salomon, in the 32nd, and June Robinson, in the 38th, have records of legislative success.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Voters should now have their ballots for the Aug. 2 primary election, which will determine the top-two candidates for the Nov. 8 general election.

The editorial board’s endorsements continue today with Senate races in two Snohomish County districts: the 32nd Legislative District in the county’s southwest and the 38th Legislative District in Everett and adjacent communities, both of which saw adjustments to their boundaries following redistricting.

The 32nd Legislative District saw changes to its boundaries that have moved neighborhoods in Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace into its borders.

Boundaries for the 38th Legislative District made a few shifts, losing neighborhoods east of Lake Goodwin and in south Everett, but gaining neighborhoods between Marysville and Lake Stevens.

In addition to these recommendations, voters also are directed to their local voters pamphlet — also mailed to registered voters — the state’s online voters guide and a series of recorded candidate forums available at the website of the Snohomish County League of Women Voters.

32nd LD, Senate

One-term incumbent, Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, is challenged by fellow Democrat Patricia Weber of Shoreline and Evelyn Anthony, who is running as an independent.

Anthony, who describes herself in the voters guide as an actor, educator and creative economy consultant, did not return requests to participate in a joint interview.

Weber, a retired medical doctor treating patients for the Indian Health Service and at Fircrest residential school, has lived in Shoreline for 30 years. Weber said she was running to protect the rights of women and work to strengthen access to reproductive health, but would also focus on general access to heath care, including mental health treatment, and affordable housing.

Salomon, a child welfare prosecutor and public defender, defeated an incumbent Democrat in 2018 to win his first term after serving on the Shoreline City Council and as deputy mayor.

Salomon has had success as primary sponsor of successful legislation in the last two sessions, including a bill that reformed regulations around drivers’ license suspensions and another that reframed malicious harassment as a hate crime. Salomon, who is vice chair of the Senate’s natural resources committee, also was primary sponsor of legislation that strengthened protections for shoreline salmon habitat.

Salomon also was primary sponsor of adopted legislation intended to encourage more housing construction by streamlining appeals under the state Environmental Policy Act and Growth Management Act, winning bipartisan support in the Senate and House.

One bill proposed by Salomon, which did not advance last session but which he plans to reintroduce, offers a potential solution to complaints from police and mayors in the county to the Legislature’s response to a state Supreme Court decision. The Blake decision and the Legislature’s response set a higher standard for arrest for possession of drugs and paraphernalia, removing what local officials considered a “carrot-and-stick” approach to connecting those with addictions to treatment and other services. Salomon’s proposal, Senate Bill 5976, while staying within the bounds of the court decision, would allow law enforcement to refer individuals to the prosecutor for either substance use intervention or prosecution.

Weber’s background as a doctor, particularly with her focus on pediatric care, would be of use in the Legislature, but Salomon in his first term has demonstrated a knack for drafting and winning passage for effective legislation that appeals to both parties. Voters should return Salomon to the Senate for a second term.

38th LD, Senate

Incumbent Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, is back on the ballot seeking a full four-year term after winning election in 2020, following her appointment to replace the long-serving Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip. Before her appointment Robinson had served in the House since 2013.

She is challenged by two Republicans: Bernard Moody and Anita Azaria, both of Everett.

Azaria, a Pakistani immigrant who has lived in Snohomish County for 28 years, has a career background that includes teaching high school in Pakistan, a child development specialist at Edmonds College, a small business owner and real estate broker, guardian ad-litem, medical assistant and accounts manager for a hospice.

Azaria sees her life and work experience as qualifying her to serve in the state Senate, which would allow her to work across the aisle and serve all in the district. Noting the limited rights of women and Christians in Pakistan, Azaria said, she’s running to protect the rights of all in her adopted country.

Moody, who ran against Robinson in 2020, is a corrections sergeant for Snohomish County, this year marking his 25th year at the county jail. Moody’s experiences and connections with law enforcement, he said, would inform his priorities in the Senate. Moody is especially concerned — and has first-hand experience with — the fentanyl crisis and wants to see more investments in treatment programs but also stricter punishments for drug offenses. As well, Moody hopes to advocate for more job training in jails and prisons, including an apprenticeship-like program for janitorial skills.

Robinson, in her two years on the Senate, has built on her experience in the House and quickly rose to vice chair of the Senate’s ways and means committee and its emphasis on budgets and taxes, which followed her work in the house as vice chair of the appropriations committee.

Her work with ways and means takes “a big chunk” of her time, she said, and she intends to keep her focus on budget and tax issues, with a budget year ahead next session and the possibility of reform proposals coming from a bipartisan and bicameral work group. Robinson said she thinks reforms to the state’s long-criticized business and operation (B&O) taxes are most likely to get attention in coming sessions, although there’s appetite for reductions to property taxes, the state’s sales tax or both. Robinson remains leery of the revenue hits the state might take in such reforms, but said she was open to considering proposals.

Robinson from her leadership position has been busy, the primary sponsor on a raft of successful legislation on budget, tax and good government legislation, including the consequential capital gains tax, now under consideration by the state Supreme Court; a near-unanimously accepted B&O tax exemption for low-income energy weatherization projects; expanded coverage and reforms to the state’s paid family medical leave act and increased transparency of primary care expenditures, again by near-unanimous approval in Senate and House.

Additionally, Robinson, a Snohomish Health Department employee, also has advocated for stronger protections and investments for public health and efforts on affordable housing.

Having made the most of two years in the Senate, voters should return Robinson for a full four-year term.

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